From Norway

Lately I have been wanting to go back in time, change things, make things different, feeling guilty, feeling like I could have stopped something…all in all just wanting him back. Yesterday I decided to pull out his MP3 player and get some music going…music has been hard to listen to lately, well, the past 4 months. Lido loves to dance and loves listening and I know his Daddy loved music and put together some Lido music so I thought it was about time we had some music going in the house because that is what we would be doing if Dodo was here. So I opened Dodo’s backpack to get the MP3 and I found some papers that I had put in there and promptly had forgotten about. One of the papers was a letter written by a student at the school to me, telling me of her time spent with Dodo. I hope that she does not mind me sharing it here (I won’t use her name) but it tells so much about Dodo and it also gave me some comfort at a time that I really need it…

Dear JVD,

Through internet and school we were asked to write about Douglas to you and your son. I choose to write you a letter instead of using the internet, to tell you how I meet Douglas and what kind of an impression he left behind. I must first say that I did not know Douglas personal, just through school. For the persons who read this, it may not seem all that special. But I know that Dodo has touched me as a person and for me the things you now will read about, is special.

From the day I started school in May 2009 I have been seeing Douglas around school but I never had anything to do with him before it was time for my Stage 1 private exam. It was scheduled but I was terrified of being judged in the manner that Douglas was supposed to do – so I bailed out a few days before the check.

Douglas was a busy guy so I caused him a little trouble at that time. My instructor and Douglas found another day for my exam, but now I was more terrified because I was scared that Douglas would be mad at me. Then, the day before my exam Dodo came up to me and asked if I was going to bail out again – I assured him I was going to do my very best the next day. He then smiled, giggled a bit and said good. Don’t let me down this time. It’s not that bad. I did not pu any trust in his words, it’s not that bad, but he was about to prove me wrong.

I came the next day, still quite terrified as I knw Douglas would decide if I was proficient enough to fly solo or he could think that my flying was awful. We started the exam and things went okay until I was supposed to do mathematics in my head and I totally got a brain feeze. That was when Dodo taught me something he called “pilotmath for dummies”. I could not tell him how many feet increased performance the helicopter would have in different types of pressure. But he taught me that in a matter of seconds.

Pilotmath for dummies.

I will never forget that. I actually use pilotmath for dummies every day, and every time I use it I think of Douglas and how lucky I am who got him as my stage 1 instructor. He also told me that he had a lot of tricks to remember stuff, because it was not too easy to get it all in. He told me to study hard and I would get there – just as he did. He really gave me a boost when he said that one day, I could be sitting on the other side of the table. Because he could see that I had it in me. Who was I to argue with one of the best pilot the school got? Douglas’s words that day, is something I will never forget and I know that he has touched me as a person in a very special way. For him, maybe, it was just another stage,  but for me it was the start of an amazing future as a pilot. I never knew an exam could be that fun and educational – and I know that it was all thanks to Douglas, an amazing teacher and pilot.

I passed my exam and went for my solos, the most special one: the first cross country solo. I always meet Douglas around school and he would always greet and ask how my training went. But one day is stuck to my mind. That was when Douglas asked me what kind of scary or weird situation happened on my first corss country solo? I thought about it for a second or two and I went for “nothing”. Then he sat down and said – think some more. I know it was something, everybody got a story to tell. I really don’t believe you when you say nothing. I gave it a better thought and of course there was somthing – so I told him “my story”. He stood up, smiled and said ‘you see. There is always something!’

Time and training went along and it was time for my checkride. I was standing outside the pilot lounge, waiting for the check rider to come along when Douglas asked me why I was so stressed. I told him I got my check ride and he asked me if I felt ready? Both yes and no was my answer. I told him I was scared that I would get too nervous and tense up – like I did on my flight with him. His answer: noooo…You got more hours now, you will do great. I’m sure of it. I believe in you so why don’t you believe in yourself?

That for me shows what a good person he was. He really thought I would make it, he believed I could do it. He could have walked away, but he took the little time to ask and respond. It’s the little things we remember, huh?

What I remember is that Douglas was a caring and thoughtful person who always took the little extra time just to catch up with the latest news. He was an amazing person, pilot and teacher. I will forever remember him and the way he influenced me in the beginning of my training.

And to end this letter I just really want to thank you for being such a wonderful person who supported your husband’s dreams even though it is a scary profession with high risks. I want to thank you for giving me and everybody else the opportunity to get to know Douglas and be able to learn from him. So thank you  for the opportunity we had, to get to know your husband Douglas.

Best regards,


Dear “Norway”,

I thank you very much for your words. I read this months ago and I am glad that I ran across them again yesterday. You see, lately I have been wishing that I wasn’t so supportive and wasn’t willing to follow his dream because that would have meant that he would be here with me today. However, your words reminded me that we are better people because of those that support us, love us and help us along the way. It reminded me that we, if we are lucky, can be greater than ourselves. We can choose to take the time to care about others and to support each other and thus no matter what happens in life, parts of us always live on. My question to my husband many years ago about what he dreamed of doing started a chain reaction where he made a difference in your life and showed you the support that you needed at the time. I have received other letters like yours that remind me that again, we are greater than ourselves if we take the time.

I know that I would have never not supported whatever it was that he wanted to do but it helps to hear words like this…ones where I see how he impacted people in the subtle ways of his personality. I loved him always for this as he supported me like this as well. He is a good soul.

Good luck “Norway” and safe flying,


ps. The last thing Doug was listening to was Pink Floyd The Wall…

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2 Comments on “From Norway”

  1. jason Says:

    Doug asked how my wife and I were doing with Avery on the way. At that point melissa was about 8 months pregnant and I responded with something like, “yeah, a month to go.”

    He looked at me for a few beats with no expression and then just started laughing.. classic.

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